Starting a business with a criminal record is easy -- if you pick the right business. It may be impossible for you to qualify for some business licenses depending on the nature of your crime, For example, someone convicted of child endangerment would likely never be approved to open a child day care center. However, the same person might easily pass all the licensing requirements to open a roofing company, mobile car wash or number of other companies.
Clean up your criminal record, if possible. Ask the attorney if your criminal record can be sealed, expunged or legally minimized in some way. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a national nonprofit consumer information company, reports that some states allow the removal of some criminal information under certain circumstances. You're not likely to clear a bank robbery conviction, but other charges, such as an old shoplifting conviction, may be eligible for removal. Your attorney can tell you what the possibilities are for you in your state.
Choose a business that does not require an extensive background check and fingerprinting for the issuance of a license. Your criminal record may disqualify you from these businesses. OCheck with your attorney before applying for the license. The attorney can review the overall requirements for the license and advise about your chances of approval based on your criminal background.
Create a business with one or more partners. For example, allow your spouse to become the majority owner in the business. You should always list your involvement in the company as required by law, government officials or lenders, but allowing someone else to lead the company may make your criminal record less of an issue.
Form your company as a limited liability company. One of the chief advantages of an LLC is that it generally keeps the liabilities and assets of the owners separate from those of the company. By selecting a name for the company other than your own you can also use the LLC to distance your criminal background from the company's reputation.
Start your company and operate it in an honest and ethical way as you continue putting your criminal past behind you.
Robert Lee has been an entrepreneur and writer with a background in starting small businesses since 1974. He has written for various websites and for several daily and community newspapers on a wide variety of topics, including business, the Internet economy and more. He studied English in college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Governor's State University.